Jordan: Residents unconvinced by plans for Lafarge's eco-friendly urban development

Published December 5th, 2016 - 08:00 GMT
Residents criticised the company’s “vague” plans to rehabilitate the site, which they said “disregard the responsibility towards the people of Fuheis over the past 65 years”. (File photo)
Residents criticised the company’s “vague” plans to rehabilitate the site, which they said “disregard the responsibility towards the people of Fuheis over the past 65 years”. (File photo)

Several Fuheis residents have again expressed their rejection of projected plans to turn the Lafarge cement factory in the area into an “urban development hub”, whereas officials from the company said it would have a positive impact on the environment and would utilise “clean energy”.

After the company held a press conference last week on its plan to turn its cement production plant in Fuheis, 20km northwest of Amman, into an “environment-friendly urban” hub, members of the Fuheis Popular Committee said the project’s plans are “against the residents’ will”.

Lafarge Jordan CEO Amr Reda said that the project would serve Fuheis residents and develop the area’s main factory, adding that 94 per cent of the land is owned by Lafarge and investors.

Reda added that the “project will serve all parties”, by providing green spaces and public spots for residents. It will include shopping malls, commercial and residential properties, medical facilities, restaurants and a university, with the approval of the Fuheis Municipality. 

Residents criticised the company’s “vague” plans to rehabilitate the site, which they said “disregard the responsibility towards the people of Fuheis over the past 65 years”. They demanded a plan that includes geographic and agricultural objectives to ensure the safety of the area.

But Reda said the company, which has been operating since 1951, had contributed around JD5 million to rehabilitate the site from any damages to the land.

Fuheis Popular Committee said in a statement sent to The Jordan Times late last week that Lafarge has not provided the residents with future plans to resolve the environmental impact of the cement factory, which stopped operating in 2013 after receiving complaints from residents over the years.

“We consider this an act of disregarding the authority of the law in Jordan,” the statement said.

Fuheis resident Iyad Salman said the plan for the projected hub includes a university; however, the location, according to Salman, is a “populated area that is not suitable for a university environment”.

Fuheis Mayor Huweishel Akroush previously told The Jordan Times the investment plan has been “approved by the majority of Fuheis residents and local organisations”. 

There will be around 438 dunums for the municipality, and some 300 dunums for streets that would serve the residents of the area and ease their journeys to and from Fuheis, which to Akroush is the “most suitable solution for the land”.

Last week, Lafarge Jordan said its plan to turn its cement production plant into an “environment-friendly urban” hub is still awaiting approvals.

Reda said the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Fuheis Municipality, but is still awaiting the municipal council’s approval to go ahead with the plan to turn its site of 1,880 dunums into an urban hub.

The executive said that if there is no approval, the company hopes to have the opportunity to “reoperate the factory via renewable energy solutions”.

By Suzanna Goussous
 

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